command of both <the> written and oral language

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marcbatco

Senior Member
Italian-Italy
Hi, I would please ask you if the article the is required in the following (what language is being referred to is specified in the preceding sentence):
Jane possesses an excellent command of both the written and oral language used on a daily basis in the work environment, at conferences and in international publications.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hi, I would please ask you if the article the is required in the following (what language is being referred to is specified in the preceding sentence):
    [...]
    Yes, you should use the article, since it's referring to a specific language, not to her general ability to use language.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I see no reason to use 'the' at all. It's referring to specific language skills.
    " ... in both written and oral language ...."
    As you say, the language in question is referred to earlier. You could change 'language' to 'skills' or 'abilities'.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with Hermione if you’re talking in general about oral and written language skills. But if you’re referring them to a specific language, then adding the article is preferable. And if you do, then you should add it twice in order to fulfil the grammatical requirement of balance in this kind of construction:

    both the written and oral language :thumbsdown:
    both the written and the oral language :tick:
    both written and oral language :tick:
     

    marcbatco

    Senior Member
    Italian-Italy
    Yes, you should use the article, since it's referring to a specific language, not to her general ability to use language.
    I see no reason to use 'the' at all. It's referring to specific language skills.
    " ... in both written and oral language ...."
    As you say, the language in question is referred to earlier. You could change 'language' to 'skills' or 'abilities'.
    I agree with Hermione if you’re talking in general about oral and written language skills. But if you’re referring them to a specific language, then adding the article is preferable. And if you do, then you should add it twice in order to fulfil the grammatical requirement of balance in this kind of construction:

    both the written and oral language :thumbsdown:
    both the written and the oral language :tick:
    both written and oral language :tick:
    Hi The Newt, Hermione Golightly and lingobingo, and thank you for you suggestions.
    To lingobingo: yes, I am referring those skills to a specific language, so, I suppose, your third option is less appropriate than your second one since no article is included, is it correct?
    What about: … an excellent command of the both written and oral language used …?
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Assuming you’re using the word both, I would include “the” twice when referring to a specific language, but not at all when talking about language in general.

    The point is that in paired constructions such as both A and B, neither A nor B, not only A but also B, etc., the two elements should be written in the same way in each half of the construction (which is not the case here if one has an article and the other doesn’t).

    Another point is that oral language is not applicable to publications, so the sentence arguably doesn’t quite work anyway. I’d be inclined to say “……the language, both written and oral, as used……”.
     

    marcbatco

    Senior Member
    Italian-Italy
    Assuming you’re using the word both, I would include “the” twice when referring to a specific language, but not at all when talking about language in general.

    The point is that in paired constructions such as both A and B, neither A nor B, not only A but also B, etc., the two elements should be written in the same way in each half of the construction (which is not the case here if one has an article and the other doesn’t).

    Another point is that oral language is not applicable to publications, so the sentence arguably doesn’t quite work anyway. I’d be inclined to say “……the language, both written and oral, as used……”.
    Thank you, lingobingo, for the explanation. And, what do you think about moving the article the before both, as follows: … an excellent command of the both written and oral language used …?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, you can’t do that. “The” and “both” are both determiners, so you can only use one of them (in that order, anyway).
     

    marcbatco

    Senior Member
    Italian-Italy
    No, you can’t do that. “The” and “both” are both determiners, so you can only use one of them (in that order, anyway).
    Thank you, lingobingo. Obviously, if you omit both, then it would be correct to not include the article the twice, as follows: ... command of the written and oral language used ..., wouldn't it?
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, that’s fine. Because there you’re not using a paired construction; you’re simply letting the same article apply to both types of language mentioned.
     
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